Saint Louis University has hired former Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford as its new men’s basketball coach, according to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday night.
However, the school soon after refuted the report by issuing a statement that read: “Saint Louis University has not hired a men’s basketball coach. The process is ongoing.”
The Idaho Statesman confirmed Sunday that Boise State coach Leon Rice interviewed for the position with the Billikens. Reached by phone Tuesday night, Rice declined to comment about the Saint Louis job, but did offer a comment on the Broncos.
“I’m excited to keep growing this program, excited where we’re headed,” he told the Statesman.
Rice has gone 122-75 in six seasons as Boise State’s head coach, leading the Broncos to their first two at-large berths in the NCAA Tournament. Rice was offered the job at his alma mater, Washington State, after the 2013-14 season, but he opted to return to the Broncos.
Ford was fired March 18 by Oklahoma State after a 12-20 season. He went 155-111 in eight seasons with the Cowboys with five NCAA Tournament appearances.
According to the Post-Dispatch report, Saint Louis likely will pay its next coach around $1 million per season. Rice will make $650,000 next season with the Broncos under his current contract, which runs through the 2020-21 season.
Saint Louis fired coach Jim Crews on March 10 following back-to-back 11-21 seasons. The Billikens, in the Atlantic 10 Conference, had reportedly also sought Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew, whose team will play in Thursday’ NIT championship.
A private school, Saint Louis is Jesuit-affiliated, as is Gonzaga, where Rice spent more than a decade as an assistant coach before coming to Boise State.
Should he return to the Broncos, Rice will have two open scholarships to fill in the spring signing period, which begins April 13. He could potentially have a third to fill if junior forward James Webb III, who declared for the NBA Draft on Sunday, does not return after testing the waters.